Small kitchens may take less time to clean,
but they’re a challenge when it comes to cooking
meals. Here are space-saving tips for tiny kitchens.

By Carol Brock

Preparing meals in a cramped kitchen can be a pain, but let’s just call it challenging. To make a tiny kitchen work, you have to prioritize and be clever with space. Luckily, plenty of space-saving ideas and devices exist for tiny kitchens.

savingspace1 Function should be a main concern. “What do you use most? How easy is it to get to it?” says Joyce Toliver, co-owner of Roll ’em Out Shelves in Brighton. Toliver installs all manner of space-saving cabinetry, including rollout shelves, drawer dividers, lazy Susans, trash-can pullouts, pullout spice racks, and linear tray bases for stacking pizza pans and cookie trays. “It all depends on what you use your kitchen for.” Identifying priorities will help you realize which types of space-saving items will work best for your kitchen.

Sitting on the floor pulling out pot after pot to find the one you need isn’t functional. “If your shelf drawers roll out and come to you instead of you leaning over to pull out pans from your cabinets, that’s more functional,” agrees Barbee James, a green interior designer and owner of Details Design Studio in Boulder.

Lighter colors and backsplashes will make a small space appear larger, while recessed can lights and under-cabinet lighting can chase away dark shadows and not take up precious space. Adhering to a cooking triangle, in which the stove, refrigerator and sink line up in a triangle configuration, helps make small kitchens more functional, James says.

“The main priority is to position the appliances as conveniently as possible for their optimum function, which is cooking,” says Cher Schuck, an interior designer and owner of CS Design in Superior. Schuck agrees the triangle configuration is optimal, but adds that some smaller kitchens have unique shapes or straight lines, as in a corridor kitchen, “so you’ll need to consider work areas that safely cross over without collisions.”

And, of course, organization is crucial. “When you’re preparing a meal, pay attention to where you pull things from and then organize your kitchen according to how often you use certain items,” Toliver suggests. “Be as organized as you can.”

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to get organized in a tiny kitchen.
Here are a few tips:
savingspace3Hang It Up

From pan racks and wall-mounted wine racks to magnetic knife strips, if you can hang up something to get it off a counter or out of a cabinet, do it. Photo by Joe Gough

 savingspace4Think Small

Appliances take up a lot of kitchen space, but most manufacturers make mini appliances, including everything from toasters and microwaves to ovens, dishwashers and refrigerators. Photo by Thurston Kitchen and Bath

savingspace5Divide It

Drawer dividers come in all shapes and sizes, and help you easily organize and find everything, from cutlery and utensils to plastic ware and dishes. Photo by Thurston Kitchen and Bath

savingspace6Bin There

Lots of stores cater to small spaces and offer, among many other things, freestanding open shelving in all sizes, as well as bins, baskets and more to store things in. Photo by Mihail Zhelezniak

savingspace7Float It

If you have a kitchen window, take advantage of the unused space it offers by placing floating shelves in front of it. You’ll gain storage room, but still have a view. Photo by Lauri Allegretti

savingspace8Cut It Out

A built-in cutting board that pulls out over a drawer will save counter space. And linear trays are a space-saving vertical way to store cutting boards, cookie trays, pizza pans and other cumbersome items. Photo by Positive Transitions Design

 

savingspace9Dry It Right

Instead of a cumbersome drying rack taking up counter space, consider a sink-strainer insert or a hanging dish rack for drying dishes directly over the sink instead of on the counter. Photo by Goodmood Photo

savingspace10Cut Corners

Consider placing a sink in a corner instead of in the middle of a counter. It opens up space and lets you use a corner you might not use otherwise. Photo by Lorraine Kourafas

savingspace11Cart It

Kitchen carts and movable islands come in all sizes, and you can store things on shelves beneath the island top. Movable carts and islands make food prep easier because they bring items to you. Photo by Thinkstock

savingspace12Open Up

Removing cabinet doors frees up usable cabinet space, because the doors no longer impede larger items that would hang over the rim. If you’re installing new cabinetry, consider butt doors without center mullions, which take up unreasonable cabinet space. Photo by Artazum